Earlier this year, RoMa Craft Tobac unveiled a new installment under its CRAFT brand, the CRAFT 2018. CRAFT serves as the company’s limited edition brand. It was back in 2013 when CRAFT 2013 made its debut. While there was a second installment in the series made in 2014 called WitchCraft, that cigar was made for the California MegaHerf. As a result, for all practical purposes, the CRAFT 2018 is the first CRAFT cigar RoMa Craft Tobac retailers have seen in nearly five years. Today we take a closer look at the CRAFT 2018 release.
CRAFT is a series that embodies much of the philosophy of RoMa Craft Tobac – it brings together many of the tobaccos it uses in its blends, showcases the craftsmanship of its factory Nica Sueno, and pays homage to the country where the cigars are made. The CRAFT 2018 continues down this path.
Without further ado, let’s break down the CRAFT 2018 and see what this cigar brings to the table.
The blend of the CRAFT 2018 consists of eight tobaccos from six different regions of four different countries. The filler of the blend is built around the components that are used for the RoMa Craft Tobac Neanderthal (Pennsylvania Broadleaf Double Ligero GRS-1, Nicaragua, and Dominican tobaccos). A thick Ecuadorian Habano Ligero leaf is used as the binder.
CRAFT 2018 actually uses two wrappers. The inner wrapper is an Ecuadorian Connecticut Dark Candela wrapper. A second wrapper of Pennsylvania Broadleaf is then used to “skirt” the Candela wrapper at a certain point – allowing portions of the candela wrapper to be exposed – most notably on the footer and some striping accents near the cap.
Wrapper: Pennsylvania Broadleaf / Ecuadorian Connecticut Dark Candela
Binder: Ecuadorian Habano Ligero
Filler: Pennsylvania Broadleaf Double Ligero GRS-1, Nicaraguan, Dominican Criollo
Country of Origin: Nicaragua (Nica Sueno)
Officially the vitola for the CRAFT 2018 is called La Campaña de Panamá Soberana, a unique 5 x 60 figurado. It’s the same shape used on the CRAFT 2013 and WitchCraft releases.
The name La Campaña de Panamá Soberana comes from the church bells in the neighborhood of Panamá Soberana in Estelí, Nicaragua – the city where the Nica Sueno factory is located Looking at the cigar, it sort of resembles a bell or a trumpet with its unorthodox shape. The unique thing about this shape is that there are no cigar molds used during the construction process.
CRAFT 2018 comes packaged in ten-count boxes. There were 2,000 boxes produced for a total of 20,000 CRAFT 2018 cigars.
The Pennsylvania Broadleaf wrapper on the CRAFT 2018 has a dark espresso bean color to it, while the candela portion has an olive green color. As mentioned, the Broadleaf rests on top of the Candela wrapper, those exposing a stripe near the cap and the candela portion on the footer. The candela also covers the CRAFT 2018’s footer. There are some visible wrapper seams as well as few visible veins.
The figurado had a gentle taper from the cap to the footer. While this wasn’t a very firm cigar, it was far from a soft and spongy cigar either.
There is no band used on the CRAFT 2018 (consistent with the other CRAFT releases). The cigar doesn’t use a cellophane, but a plastic sheet that is wrapped around the cigar with the cap and footer remaining exposed.
After using a straight cut to clip the cap of the CRAFT 2018, it was time to move on to the pre-light draw phase. The dry draw was simple, as it delivered notes of coffee and touches of classic wood. I still considered this to be a satisfactory pre-light draw. At this point, I was ready to light up the RoMa Craft Tobacco CRAFT 2018 and see what this cigar would deliver.
The CRAFT 2018 began with notes of grass and cream – along with a slight pepper and citrus note. Given that the footer was candela, this was not surprising. Much like the Black Works Studio Green Hornet, the CRAFT 2018 essentially gives you a “shot of candela” to start. The retro-hale had a very mild pepper note with a subtle sweetness.
As the CRAFT 2018 moves into the Broadleaf portion, some coffee and additional black pepper notes emerged. The candela profile doesn’t go away, but fades into the background. The coffee notes take control early on with the notes of pepper, grass, and citrus notes remaining in the background. There was now a stronger black pepper note on the retro-hale.
As the CRAFT 2018 moved through the first third the coffee notes remained in the forefront. The black pepper notes had another slight increase, but still very much were a background note. At this point, the candela profile broke down as the grass and citrus notes morphed into more of a mineral note – which remained in the background. There also were some occasional dark chocolate notes present.
During the second third, a flavor that I can best describe as a soy sauce flavor emerged. I use this analogy because this flavor had both savory and salty qualities to it. This soy sauce note started in the background, but by the second third, it moved into the forefront, joining the coffee notes. Meanwhile, the mineral and pepper notes remained secondary, and the dark chocolate notes dissipated.
The coffee and soy sauce notes alternated in intensity. I was surprised how these two disparate flavors worked well together. Toward the last third, these two notes remained primary, but I found the coffee flavor to play less of a role. Meanwhile notes of mineral and black pepper contributied some additional flavor. This is the way the CRAFT 2018 came to a close. The resulting nub was slightly soft to the touch and cool in temperature.
I did find the burn of the CRAFT 2018 needed some TLC, but overall, it still performed well. There was some jaggedness on the burn line, but the cigar was never in danger of tunneling or canoeing. The resulting ash was slightly loose, but again it didn’t prove to be burdensome. This was an ash that pretty much had a salt and pepper color scheme. The burn rate and burn temperature were both ideal.
The draw of the CRAFT 2018 performed excellently. While sometimes I like a little more resistance on the draw, this wasn’t too tight nor too loose. The CRAFT 2018 also delivered a nice amount of smoke production – something I also like.
Strength and Body
Bottom line, if you like a cigar that progresses in strength and body, the CRAFT 2018 is the cigar for you. This cigar started out mild in both strength and body as I smoked through the candela section. Once the CRAFT 2018 entered the Broadleaf wrapped section the CRAFT 2018 progressed into the medium range. By the second half, the CRAFT 2018 was pretty much in medium to full territory.
Throughout the smoking experience, I found the CRAFT 2018 to maintain an excellent balance of strength versus body.
I’ve smoked all of the CRAFT series cigars by RoMa Craft Tobac and one thing I can attest to is that each the shaper of the cigar affects how the blend smokes. All of the cigars have also been extremely enjoyable, but when it comes to the CRAFT 2018, I have found this one to be my favorite installment of the series thus far. The nice bonus is the “candela shot” at the beginning. It was just enough candela for me and it smoothly transitioned to the Broadleaf portion of the smoke.
Finding the CRAFT 2018 may be a little tough, but I would recommend contacting your RoMa Craft Tobac authorized retailer and see if he has it in stock. It’s a cigar I’d most likely recommend to a more experienced cigar enthusiast, but I certainly would not discourage a novice from trying. As for myself, while it is a pricier cigar at $15.00, it still garners box worthy consideration.
Key Flavors: Coffee, Pepper, Grass, Dark Chocolate, Black Pepper, Mineral, Savory/Salty Note (described as Soy Sauce)
Burn: Very Good
Draw: Very Good
Strength: Mild –> progresses to Medium to Full by midpoint
Body: Mild –> progresses to Medium to Full by midpoint
Finish: Very Good
Value: Box Worthy Consideration
Source: RoMa Craft Tobac / Purchased
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop, except where noted